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May  2024 Issue

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Regional Community Media and Arts News

By John Murphy

Greetings everyone, I hope the Solar Eclipse treated you well—what a great reminder of our place in the Universe! It has been a very busy month with a lot to share so I will get right to it:

  1. Make Music Day 2024 Friday June 21—make joyous noise everywhere on the Solstice!
  2. Grant award news from The Cultural Coalition—110 Grants for $2.8 Million to the eastern region
  3. The On the Homefront series adds a second radio station in our region on May 23—WICH AM/FM
  4. Local radio at WILI AM/FM is blowing up its weekday talk and information programming

It all started 42 years ago in France. In 1982, Jack Lang and his staff at the Ministry of Culture dreamed up an idea for a new kind of musical holiday. They imagined a day where free music would be everywhere, all around each city: street corners, parks, rooftops, gardens, and store fronts. And, unlike a typical music festival, anyone and everyone is invited to join and play music or host performances. 

Amazingly enough, this dream has come true. Four decades later, the holiday has spread throughout the world and is now celebrated in more than 1,000 cities in 120 different countries. In recent years, cities across the US have launched their own Make Music celebrations, making this musical holiday a truly national phenomenon. 

Make Music Connecticut offers all residents the opportunity to add a chorus to the rich musical history of Connecticut—host some music or make your own! Or both! Across the state each year, musicians of every kind take to streets, parks, plazas, and porches, from the Long Island Sound to the hills in the North.

Connecticut’s sixth annual Make Music Day in 2023 featured more than 400 free musical performances across fourteen regional chapters, brought together by the Connecticut Office of the Arts to coordinate a diverse day of music-making statewide, open to all.

We invite artists of all ages and genres, amateur and professional alike, to sign up to perform free concerts on June 21 in public spaces throughout the state. Everyone is welcome, and we mean everyone — even if you’ve never touched an instrument before, our thirteen regional organizers will have free music lessons and special hands-on music making opportunities just for you. And if you have a location to offer — a storefront, park, porch, or sidewalk — we invite you to sign up to host musicians on June 21. Just click on your state and local celebration below to get started!

-For Make Music Day history and a global overview with news: https://makemusicday.org/ 

-Find out what states are doing—just click on Connecticut: https://makemusicday.org/cities/ 

I share this news in May to give readers enough time to plan head to play with friends or host a gathering. When in doubt just go for it! The June issue will feature a schedule of Make Music Day events.

The Cultural Coalition serving southeastern and northeastern Connecticut is the Connecticut Office of the Arts Designated Regional Service Organization (DRSO) serving 42 towns across our region. A wide range of useful information and resources are available for artists and arts groups at their website www.culturesect.org

You can register in their database to receive mailings and newsletters to keep you informed of training and grant opportunities. Their website today shared wonderful news about a round of arts grants for the Quiet Corner:

CT Humanities Announces $16 Million in Grant Awards—110 Grants for $2.8 Million to eastern CT

CT Humanities provides general operating support grants to help the state’s museums, cultural, humanities, and arts organizations maintain and grow their ability to serve their community and the public, connect K-12 teachers and students to strong humanities and arts content, and improve their information technology and digital infrastructure. 

110 Grants were awarded to eastern Connecticut for $2,788,900 (in the 42 towns served by the Cultural Coalition). It was very sweet to notice that many award winners have been guests on our WILI Radio program and we look forward to sharing stories about your good work in the coming year. Looking back over recent years it is becoming clear that the post-Covid arts economy in our region is growing and in recovery mode!

 Congratulations and bravo!

Windham County–23 Grants/$137,900

Ashford 

Windham Arts Organization/Ashford Arts Council/$5,000 

Brooklyn 

Col. Daniel Putnam Association/$8,600 

Canterbury 

Canterbury Historical Society/$5,200 

Prudence Crandall Museum/CT State Historic Preservation Office/$5,000 

The Finnish American Heritage Society/$6,000 

Coventry 

Windham Area Arts Collaborative/David Hayes Art Foundation/$9,400 

Eastford 

Eastford Historical Society/$5,200 

Killingly 

Killingly Historical & Genealogical Society/$5,300 

Pomfret 

Community Cultural Committee of Northeast Connecticut/$5,500 

Performing Arts of Northeast Connecticut/$7,700 

Pomfret Historical Society/$5,400 

Scotland 

Governor Samuel Huntington Trust/$5,600 

Thompson 

The Thompson Historical Society/$5,700 

Windham

Connecticut Eastern Chapter National Railway Historical Society/$6,600

Storyline/$5,100

Willimantic Public Art/$5,400

Windham Arts/$8,500

Windham Preservation/$5,100

Windham Regional Arts Council/$5,500

Windham Textile and History Museum/$8,800

Woodstock

Chamberlin Mill /$6,100

Northeast Connecticut Community Orchestra/$5,500

Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities/$5,000

Woodstock Historical Society/$6,100

Tolland County (eastern CT region)—9 Grants/$58, 500 

Coventry

Coventry Arts Guild/$5,500

Coventry Historical Society/$6,400

Museum of Connecticut Glass/$5,200

Windham Area Arts Collaborative/David Hayes Art Foundation/$9,400

Mansfield

Consonare Choral Community/$6,000

Mansfield Historical Society/$8,400

Stafford

Stafford Historical Society/$5,400

Willington

Eastern Connecticut Center for History Art and Performance/$6,800

Willington Historical Society/$5,400

TALK RADIO IN EASTERN CONNECTICUT IS EXPANDING

TWO STATIONS FOR ON THE HOMEFRONT

MORE LOCAL PROGRAMS FOR WILI 

[Ed Note for Tom: the two original logos I sent had designs with different sizes and scales. I tweaked them individually (horizontal only) for this version to match the different size and scale the best I could. Thanks for doing what you can when you insert them in your final version.]

On Thursday May 23, 2024 at 5 pm, the On the Homefront series will begin broadcasts on a second radio station to extend our coverage from the Windham/Quiet Corner region of the northeast to Norwich and New London in the southeast. With significant reach into the three counties of eastern Connecticut—Tolland, Windham, and New London—we hope to reach an increasing number of the ½ million people who live in more than 40 towns across the region. Connecting local radio with YouTube and mobile channels will make it easier than ever to join us.

-Wednesdays from 5-6 pm on WILI AM 1400 and 95.3 digital FM/Willimantic

-Thursdays from 5-6 pm on WICH AM 1310/FM 94.5/Norwich/New London

For the coming months our priorities will include:

1. Continuing full coverage of the arts community in all its forms across the region.

2. The increasing impacts of recent structural and financial changes to the system of health care delivery.

3. The growing imbalance of our housing market economy and the growth of tenant unions.

4. Direct support for live music in all venues across the region—interviews, tour info, websites.

5. Local and regional governance and development challenges.

Our base of operations and production will continue atWILI in Willimantic, but story coverage and guests will be regionwide. Both radio stations are part of the Hall Communications group serving Connecticut.

Meet a few of our recent guests in the radio house!

[editor note: Tom, I will rely on you placing the images together side by side in your layout version. Thanks!]

Daniela de Sousa from Spiral Arts sponsored a wildly successful Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Covenant Soup Kitchen on April 24. Great weather, great turnout, great soup, the love of our community was flowing!

From a series of features about the newly formed Latino Chamber of Commerce of Windham with VP Luis Morale Torres and a business member Tamara Riera from Jayys Food Truck.

WILI Expands Local Talk Radio Service!

Now on Monday through Friday from 4-6 pm

MONDAY

4-5 pm/My Three with Steve Everett, Columbia First Selectman.

5-5:30 pm/Ravings & Cravings – Ruth Hartunian Alumbaugh, about the eastern CT food scene.

5:30-6 pm/Connecticut East – Brian Scott Smith covers eastern CT entertainment, town, and other events.

TUESDAY 

4-5 pm/Program still in development with new host.

5-5:30 pm/Hometown Threads – Keith C. Rice puts the radio spotlight on local entrepreneurs with an in-person interview with historic family businesses.

5:30 – 6 pm/The Neighborhood – Former Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge and Anita Sebestyan discuss Windham History and how it relates to current projects and events with local guests.

WEDNESDAY

4-5 PM/Garden Talk with Lisa Napolitano & Len Giddix.

 5-6 PM/On the HomefrontJohn Murphy with weekly community conversations about the arts economy, regional culture, nonprofit news and events, local government issues, health care, and tenant unions.

THURSDAY

4-5 pm/The Republic Forum with Jeff Veins & Tom White.

 5-6 pm/Your Body, Your Mind on this Journey called Life – Steven Acevedo on Nutrition & Health topics.

FRIDAY

4-5 PM/Homegrown—the regional live music scene with Matt Rupar.

Friday 5-6 pm/Let’s Talk About It: Susan Johnson & Dennis O’Brien on politics and government.

WILI YouTube Channel for all Monday-Friday local talk shows—all programs below are available here:

https://www.youtube.com/@wiliradio7000. Each program has its own playlist with all the shows. Search on “WILI Radio” and subscribe!

The On the Homefront audio podcast archive is available 24/7. Subscribe to get every new program!

As always, thanks for reading Neighbors and for listening to or watching On the Homefront. I appreciate your interest and support for local media wherever you find it—and I hope you will stay connected with this project and join me in the studio when you have news to share!

Always keep the faith,

John Murphy

john@humanartsmedia.com

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – What’s in a Name? 

By Bob Lorentson

Studies have shown that the average person has around 6,000 thoughts per day, and that 95 percent of them are about themselves.  Almost none of them are about garbage.  OK, I made that last part up.  But if you only had 300 thoughts a day to work with, would you think about garbage?  I myself only think about it when I am reminded to by my wife, or if she’s away, flies.  So it’s a good bet that no one is thinking much of anything about even the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, let alone any of the more run-of-the-mill garbage patches of the world. 

            But now that you’ve stopped obsessing about yourself, I’ll bet you’re thinking, What makes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch so great?  And I have to admit that while it is nothing like those other great world monuments, the Great Wall of China and the Great Barrier Reef, neither is it a fading relic of a time or environment gone by.  Before we throw out the name along with everything else we throw out, however, let’s think about some possible reasons for its greatness. 

1) It’s big!  At 618,000 square miles, there’s plenty of room in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for everyone’s garbage.  Scientists say that it’s twice the size of Texas!  While Texas is an appropriate measure when comparing garbage patches, a better measure might be to say that it is about the size of our indifference, which, let’s face it, is pretty great.  And it’s only getting bigger!  Scientists say that it’s showing a 2.5 percent growth rate, which makes it a better investment than recycling!  It has, in fact, grown to become a new type of monument, the biggest we’ve yet created to our modern throw-away society.  (And if you visit, the great thing is you can forget that ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’ rule and leave whatever you like.) 

            From its humble beginnings in the 1960s, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has grown to become the world leader in garbage patches.  To understand how it grew so big, let’s take a glimpse into the life cycle of plastic, its primary component.  Following manufacture, ninety percent of all plastic items are used once and tossed out, victims of their cheap and easy availability.  While about nine percent of it is recycled, eleven percent escapes into aquatic environments, where it can then find its way via ocean currents to the nearest garbage patch. There it can live out its years in the company of other plastic bottles, bags, fishing nets, and enough miscellaneous plastic debris to choke a sea turtle.  Or thousands of turtles, fish, whales, dolphins, …  It’s not pretty, but then – 

            2) We don’t have to see it!  Located between California and Hawaii, and 1,000 miles from land, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was only discovered in 1997 by an oceanographer who knew what the ocean was supposed to look like.  Throwing out his concerns, however, was as easy as throwing out a plastic bottle.  Which leaves me wondering if any enterprising alien reconnaissance crews could also have discovered it, and are currently assessing our willingness to trade our ancestral planet for cheap trinkets, or to turn it into an inter-galactic dump. 

            While it’s true that many sea creatures do have to see it, swim through it, live in it, or get entangled and die in it, we generally don’t have to see them either, until they end up on our plates.  Which is apparently what worries the scientists who say that all that plastic eventually degrades into tiny micro particles that permeate the oceans from top to bottom and pole to pole, whereupon it then enters the food chain and ends up on our plates also.  I’ll believe it when I see it. 

            3) It’s free!  Normally a monument of this size and complexity would be ridiculously expensive, and come with intense wrangling over who was going to pay for it, and how.  Scientists say that if we’d only listen to them, we’d know that we’re all going to pay for it if we don’t stop doing what we’re doing.  That’s one reason why nobody listens to scientists.  Another is because anyone can see that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch built itself, and it didn’t cost us a penny.  We just did what we always do, look the other way, and Voila!  Who knows what other big surprises we could have in store for us by looking the other way? 

            4) It’s creating a new environment!  Bold coastal creatures like crabs, anemones, and many others that would ordinarily never get the chance to experience more of the world are now turning their backs on the coast and thriving on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  These new floating plastic waste ecosystems have even been given a name – the Plastisphere.  Who knew that creating new environments could be so easy?  Only time will tell if evolving in a plastic environment is the way of the future, or the end of the future, but if we’ve learned anything about ourselves, it’s that we can waste time too.  

            Ok, so maybe we need to either raise our standard of greatness, or lower our standard of living.  It’s something to think about anyway.  

(Bob Lorentson is a local writer and retired environmental scientist. His latest book is YOU ONLY GO EXTINCT ONCE (Stuck in the Anthropocene with the Pleistocene Blues Again). 

Memorial Day in Hampton – A Slice of Americana

“The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree.”  –   Thomas Campbell

By Bill Powers

Visiting the Hampton General Store on a regular basis has become a happily anticipated occurrence for us. There is a large selection of ice cream sodas available at the soda fountain, including my personal favorite a root beer float. We always look forward to taking home delicious frozen or refrigerated prepared meals available from a large assortment.  Always a treat are the freshly baked goods from a good selection of brownies, cookies, cakes or pies. We are always greeted by a welcoming and smiling face and by Brutus the friendly resident canine who inhabits the store during the day. 

   As my wife and I were approaching the front door on our last visit, we read an announcement printed on a chalkboard calling attention to the Hampton General Store’s participation in Hampton’s upcoming Memorial Day Observance (May 27th). See a photo of the chalkboard notice which accompanies this article. This year the Hampton General Store will participate in Memorial Day activities at the store’s location across Main Street from the Library and Congregational Church. 

   Further investigation revealed that there are detailed plans that should prove to be engaging for anyone who participates in Hampton’s Observance of Memorial Day on May 27th. Thanks to Bob Grindle, who is the chairman of Hampton’s Memorial Day Planning Committee, I was able to learn about the plans for their remarkable program. 

    A parade is scheduled to begin assembling in front of the Hampton Congregational Church at 9:00 am; stepping off at 9:30 am. Those walking in the parade won’t have to do so on an empty stomach since there will be a pancake breakfast at the Congregational Church from 8 to 9:30 am. At 10:00 am a Memorial Day Ceremony with speakers and a recognition of our Veterans will follow at the Town Hall. 

   At that time John Tillinghast will provide opening remarks. This will be followed by: 1) the Invocation by Reverend Alan Freeman; 2) the “National Anthem” sung by Micelle Brett, during which local Scouts will walk to the flag pole and perform a flag ceremony… raising from ½ staff to full height – then lowering it back to ½ staff; 3) placing of the memorial wreath commemorating fallen veterans to the side of the Memorial Monument; 4) a gun salute by the National Guard “firing detail” and the reading of  the names of recently deceased Hampton veterans by Stan Crawford; 5) Taps and Echo Taps played by the Parish Hill band – followed by a moment of silence; 6) the singing of one verse of “America the Beautiful” by Perry Mandanis; 7) a medley of military service themes during which veterans who are attending will be asked to stand and be recognized; 8)) the introduction of the First Selectman; 9) a Retrospective on the passing of Hampton’s last WWII veterans and a brief history of the Korean War/conflict (the subject of this year’s program; 10) speakers; 11) PHMHS Band performing the “National Anthem” led by Benjamin Loomis; 12) military members who are currently serving read by Stan Crawford; 13) the presentation of the Marsh-Chesters Awards; 14) singing of “God Bless America” by Ms. Bonnie Cardwell and Ms. Renee Cuprak; 15) announcement of the Float Winners;16) Recognition Announcements; 17) Benediction by Pastor Paula of the Hampton Congregational Church.

   Jane Ireland and her equestrian drill team will perform on the ball field immediately after the ceremony. The Annual Chicken BBQ will begin at 11:30 am at the Community Center. The local band, The Barstool Diplomats will be performing during the afternoon in the Community Center. 

  At 12 noon there will be a brief Little River Naval ceremony – It will take place on the Little River bridge at the base of Hammond Hill. Participants will gather flowers and release them to the water in honor of those veterans lost at sea.

  In Hampton Memorial Day is a day-long observance designed to involve everyone in this small town to honor and mourn those who made the supreme sacrifice for America. The way they go about it, is a good way; an incredible way to remember and pay tribute. It is a slice of Americana that should be emulated far and wide.

   Members of The Hampton Memorial Day Planning Committee are: Bob Grindle; Morris Burr; Allan Cahill; Jerry Mizak; Renee Cuprak; Dayna Arriola and John Tillinghast

Common Sense Car Care

By Rick Ostien

  In previous articles I have written about the drastic changes that are occurring in the automotive industry. I should say anything that burns fossil fuels. The highway construction site that you drive by will most likely have computer controlled plus emission complaint equipment. California emission standards have raised the cost to the consumer and of doing business in California. Some states including ours are looking into adopting these standards. This means vehicles or equipment that do not meet these standards will have to be sold or replaced.

     The cost of repairing your vehicle has risen steadily over the years.  For a licensed repair facility just to open the doors there has also been a steady increase of operating costs. This brings us to another problem. For years people have worked on their own vehicles and helped family and friends with theirs. This did not really affect licensed repair facilities. Today, however, we have unlicensed repair facilities in back yards. Let us look at one that is located in our area. He does not just have a one or two bay garage, but multiple bays. Each bay has a lift and equipment. There is no liability, warranty, or recourse for the person who has their vehicle worked on here.  There is nothing you can do if there is an issue with a repair.  The town does not receive tax money for the services they offer. The state does not receive revenue that a licensed repair facility has to pay just to operate a business in our town and state. This person also has a regular job that is a union occupation. I wonder if he would feel the same way we feel if someone was affecting his job or business.

     The high-tech world has changed the cost of living. The cost of owning and maintaining today’s vehicle must be treated like an investment. Simple oil changes can help you extend the life of your vehicle. The motor vehicle has always had part failure and needed regular maintenance. I would suggest creating some sort of regular maintenance program for your vehicle. The repair facility that changes your oil usually includes a visual inspection of the vehicle. This can help you plan for future repairs. The fable of the ant and the grasshopper comes to mind. The ant was always prepared and a very hard worker, the grasshopper on the other hand, was a fun-loving guy who was never proactive. He got left out in the cold! Are you an ant or a grasshopper? (you can google this story if you cannot remember it)

     The last thing I would like to write about is the closing of National Speed Center in Manchester. This business has been serving the public for 5 decades. Owned and operated by Dan Burnham and Jay Adams, this was a great place to get specialty parts. If they did not have it on the shelf, they would get it for you. Dan and Jay have decided to retire and they certainly have earned it. I will miss their service and dedication. I wish them a wonderful retirement and thank them for all the times they helped me find the parts I needed over the years.

Nostalgic Longings and an Abundance of Life

By Bob Grindle

It seems a thousand things that we know we should be doing sprout quickly in the composted remains of the time we all promise ourselves we’ll use wisely…and then life beckons. A star twinkles into view as dusky evening drifts in from the east and we pause to dream a wish; the smell of freshly cut grass invites a deep inhale of that nostalgic and luscious scent and we sit down for a moment’s distraction as we enjoy the tidy look of our handiwork; or perhaps the noise of human activity suddenly gives way to the sensory art and music of the world around us—birds’ singing, flowers and shrubs blooming, perhaps the sound of water rushing or cascading over rocks, aromas drifting, then mixing with the breezes whispering through trees and an absolute symphony of insect buzzing and clicking and chirping and humming create an architecture of sound and beauty that speaks to the common soul in us all, and we lose a moment to the pleasure of a relaxing reverie. As I sit down surrounded by the almost indescribably lush, soft, multi-shaded green grass that is the lawn on the sunny south side of our barn here on a south-facing hillside in Hampton, Connecticut, I look up into the quickly darkening sky. The first bright stars are twinkling into view, and I smile to imagine our address in the universe: Earth, Solar System, Milky Way…first the dog stars, Sirius (canis major) and Procyon (canis minor,) then Vega and the red stars, Betelgeuse, Arcturus and Aldebaran, as the night sky comes gradually, relentlessly to life.  It is at moments like this, sitting alone, if only for an instant, a solitary traveler on a planet positively bursting at the seams with life, that I feel most satisfyingly alive: not insignificantly small; not smugly superior; just delighted to be part of the crew on this singular journey.  

Certainly, there are broken tools to repair (always will be,) community commitments to keep, household projects to complete, animals to care for, weather to deal with, endless family matters to wrangle and daily chores that compete with the time it takes to restore one’s connection with the world around us, but I often think of these short interludes of reflection as a sort of refueling stop. A way to reignite the imagination and get on with the excitement of living. 

May will be a month not only to fulfill April’s promise of flowers, freshly restarted gardens,  greening landscapes and parades, but also of a parade of planets across the early morning skies. Beginning May 3rd as the waning crescent Moon fades into the sunrise, on each of four subsequent mornings the Moon will pair with different planets. Looking above the East-Southeast just-before-sunrise horizon on the 3rd, you’ll see Saturn to the left of the Moon, then on the 4th you’ll see the Moon between Saturn and Mars (Mars is the red planet to the left of the Moon,) on the 5th the Moon is between Mars, on the right, and Mercury. Finally, on the 6th, a whisper thin crescent Moon sits above and to the left of Mercury. 

With just a little bit of luck in the wee early hours before morning on Sunday and Monday May 5th and 6th you may be able to catch a meteor shower as our planet passes through the left-over debris from Halley’s comet back in 1986. The Aquariid Meteor Shower is not known to be a very productive source of shooting stars, but this year there will be little to no moonlight to hide the show and we might just get lucky. The meteors will appear to radiate from the Aquarius constellation high in the eastern sky and should not be too obstructed by treetops. 

Sitting here beneath the sky and on top of the Earth, it is hard to fully appreciate the full scale of our existence. In the Milky Way Galaxy alone more than 400 billion stars spread across more than 600,000 trillion miles are busy converting matter into starlight, and there are nearly 2 trillion more galaxies spread across the Cosmos. Here on Earth where matter evolved into a mind numbing galaxy of life forms and ultimately grew into consciousness, it is worth noting that along the way far more species have gone extinct than exist today…and as the sky grows more abundant with stars and a chill descends to remind me that April in Connecticut can get cold quickly, I head back into the house where warmth and light await. 

The Ball of Curls at the End of the Rainbow

By Delia Berlin

When our last parrot died this past June, after our more than three decades of birdkeeping, a dark silence fell on our home. It was deeper than our grief. All the whistles, phrases, laughter, and songs of our parrots ended abruptly. And it was lonely. Most people can relate to the loss of a dog or a cat, but few are familiar with the bond that can be developed with a parrot. While our family and friends understood our loss, several acquaintances could not even bring themselves to express sympathy, as if the quality of such a pet did not justify it.

Compounding our sadness was the realization that our advanced ages and parrots’ long lifespans now made us unsuitable companions for them. But, as time passed and our acute mourning eased, we became more open to possibilities. Parrots’ long lives also result in many parrots requiring rehoming. We knew several organizations dedicated to that mission and they certainly could help us identify an older parrot in need of a loving home.

First, I should explain that the word “parrot” is way too broad to describe this potential pet. In a nutshell, there are approximately 350 species of parrots that range from tiny (like a budgie) to huge (like a macaw). They also differ significantly in temperament, habits, and loudness. Considering the possibility of needing condo or apartment living in the future, we would have to rule out any parrot too big or too loud for those conditions. That would narrow the pool significantly.

In addition, since we would be keeping a single parrot, we needed one oriented to humans that would not miss the company of peers. Strange as this quality may seem, it is common among pet birds. Most parrots bred in captivity are raised by humans and remain more interested in people than birds for life. At least we had some criteria to begin a search for a companion bird.

Fast forward a few months of internet searches, phone calls, and adoption applications, and we were still birdless. For the first time in our 42 years together, we had been without a pet for many months. Perhaps out of frustration and impatience, we started considering other pets. In the distant past, David had been allergic to cats and dogs, but he had not reacted to any of the many dogs in our extended family and friends’ homes for a long time. After some reading, we decided that an extra-small dog, or a small dog of a hypoallergenic breed, would be safe.

At this point, the search broadened and intensified. We would try to adopt an adult dog locally, but we would also continue our parrot search. If we found a good match, we would take in either a parrot or a dog, and possibly both. But even with these broader requirements, we were unprepared for the difficulty of the search.

There is a website, Petfinder, that (presumably) acts as a gateway for any pet search. You can enter your zip code, the type of pet you are looking for, narrow it down by size, age, and even behavior, and find potential matches nearby. But I soon found out that many of the dogs listed were hundreds of miles away. They were usually in a Southern state, awaiting transport to New England. Many of these dogs were expected to be purchased or adopted on faith alone, for a price that included transport to Connecticut. We were not willing to go that way.

I also discovered that while Petfinder allowed narrowing the search to local pets only, many organizations were finding a way around this. A potential pet may be listed at a local rescue, for example in Lebanon or East Hartford, but phone calls or emails may reveal that the pet is actually in the South. A local address seems to be enough to meet the “local pets” requirement at Petfinder.

With these problems exposed, we got suspicious about “rescue” organizations. Would we be supporting an unethical profitable industry disguised as a charitable enterprise? We thought it would be best to keep checking our local animal control offices and shelters instead. But unfortunately, our local pounds tend to be flooded with pit bulls and other large breeds. Occasionally, when a small dog showed up, we were outcompeted.

We also checked the Connecticut Humane Society, with an adoption website that is updated every five minutes. They only do adoptions in-person and their main kennels are in Newington. It was a long trip for us, but when we saw a dog with potential, we headed there. We found out that they do not hold any pet, even overnight. Leaving with the dog we came to check on seemed daunting to us, but we were willing to do it if we could get enough positive information about him. Yet, upon arrival we were told that the senior dog we were interested in came with a “bite waiver” and nobody knew for sure if he was housebroken. We declined, without even seeing the dog. We decided that going to Newington to check prospects in those circumstances was too much for us.

During this long process we came across several amazing organizations that impressed us with their dedication, advocacy, and responsibility. Some had sweet dogs with more special needs than we were able to fulfill from the start. Others did not have any candidates meeting our criteria. And there were also those that would not consider us because we lived outside of the radius for required home visits to make sure the pet is a good match with its new owner. In one case, we suggested virtual visits, or in-person visits by a surrogate of their choosing, but our offer was not accepted. Most of these organizations are operated by volunteers and have limited resources. They have the best interest of each animal in mind, but they must be practical by necessity.

At one point, one of our local animal control offices had a dog that was described as almost exactly what we were looking for. We applied immediately, but received an email the next day stating that there was lots of interest in that dog. They wanted to know the last time we had had a dog. Since we kept parrots for over 30 years, we had not had dogs for a very long time. We explained that and, without even a phone call or a home visit, we were rejected for lack of experience. Hopefully, that dog went to his perfect home and is doing well. But we think that having a dog is a bit like riding a bike—you do not forget what it is like.

Reluctantly, we decided we needed to expand our search to nonprofit rescue organizations. We found one that holds periodic adoption events at Petco in Dayville. They bring dogs from shelters in Tennessee, but their process is reasonable. There is an extensive adoption application that requires personal and vet references, in addition to a small fee. They check the references and conduct a virtual interview and home visit. If one is approved to adopt a dog, the pet can be picked up at the adoption event. If for any reason that dog does not seem like a good match, the application remains approved for available pets at future events. There is also an adoption fee, but the organization emphasizes that it is not a sale price but covers the cost of neutering or spaying, vaccinations, deworming, several tests, microchipping, and transport.

Of course, when it rains it pours. Suddenly, Foster Parrots, a large parrot rescue and sanctuary in Rhode Island, asked to interview us for potential matches. During the same week, Connecticut Parrot Rescue called us to assess our household for an older parrot in need of a home. And Paws Rescue League conducted a virtual home visit ahead of an adoption event the following weekend. We proceeded, one thing at a time, and the adoption event at Petco came first.

On March 3rd, we brought home Curly, a six-year-old mini-poodle mix. He had been found as a stray in Tennessee on Valentine’s Day, and in a little over two weeks he had been through a lot. During the previous ten days or so, he had been at a foster home. His foster mom brought him to Petco with his favorite toy and lots of information that we later found to be accurate and helpful. Soon after we got home with Curly, our local animal control officer called to ask if we were interested in a chihuahua. But our search was over.

For now, our parrot pursuit has been suspended. Curly is just a little over 10 lbs. but he is worth his weight in gold. He is smart, affectionate, playful, curious, cuddly, and funny. He happens to be hypoallergenic and David has not reacted. We are both so in love with him that we must pinch ourselves to believe that he is really with us. Frustrating and long as this search was, it landed us the best pooch in the whole wide world. Our parrots will remain in our hearts forever, but at least the silence in our home has been replaced with the pitter-patter of little paws.

BICYCLING IN CONNECTICUT (Part 3)

By Dean Farrell

Last year, I wrote a two-part essay about the various bike paths I’ve explored in our state. I’ve since ridden more and thought I would bring them to your attention.

Larkin State Park Trail. This 10.8-mile path runs through Naugatuck, Middlebury, Oxford, and Southbury. To get to the Route 63 trailhead in Naugatuck from the parking area, I had to walk my bike up a steep, rocky incline. I was huffing and puffing and sweating before my ride even began. 

The path itself is made of dirt and is loaded with stones. It also features many dips and slopes as you cross the various roads. And it’s not all that scenic! As such, I can only recommend this trail to those looking for an intense workout.

Southwick Rail Trail/Columbia Greenway. This paved path is a continuation of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, which I covered in “Bicycling in Connecticut, Part 2” (May 2023 Neighbors).You’ll pick it up on Phelps Road in West Suffield and take it about nine miles into Massachusetts, through Southwick and Westfield. At the state line, you’ll see the remnants of the old New Haven to Northampton Canal.

The Massachusetts end goes from the Southwick Rail Trail (due south of Shaker Road) to the Westfield River Esplanade. You’ll go through downtown Westfield and pass farm fields and the Little River. Much of the trail is elevated, following the old New York/New Haven/Hartford Railroad. The section between Main Street and the Westfield River offers exceptional views of the town and its surrounding landscape. This is one of America’s only elevated urban rail trails!

Vernon Rails-to-Trails (Hop River State Park Rockville Spur). This four-mile stone-dust trail begins on Warren Avenue in Vernon. However, you’ll want to park 0.2 miles away at the Rails-to-Trails lot on Church Street. It was once a railroad depot but is now a trailhead, which dedicated volunteers maintain scrupulously. It’s also an outdoor museum with numerous plaques that tell of local railroad history. (Among the facts I learned: the Rockville Spur was built in 1863 to serve the area’s lucrative textile industry.) You also will see the remnants of a roundhouse, and other railroad-based artifacts.

The spur begins at the intersection of Church and Phoenix Streets. A signpost marks the start of the path, and there are quarter-mile markers the rest of the way. Before long, you’ll be in a scenic wooded area. Your first crossing, about .25 miles down, is at Maple Avenue. As there is a crosswalk but no signals, I recommend walking your bike across it.

Soon, you’ll cross the bridge over the Tankerhoosen River. Look upriver (through the ubiquitous trees) and you’ll see Tankerhoosen Lake, one of the river’s seven ponds. It’s worth getting off your bike and taking in this fine example of nature’s beauty. 

After that, you’ll be at the Interstate 84 underpass. In the space between tunnels, you’ll feast your eyes on a colorful, dazzling mural painted by local artists and schoolkids.

The next intersection crosses Route 30 (Hartford Turnpike). Depending on traffic, it may take some time before you’re able to cross. Again, you’ll want to dismount and walk across this very busy stretch of road. The path continues through the woods, and has unmarked side paths leading to it from nearby houses. Clearly, the spur is popular with the locals!

When you’re 3.25 miles in (at West Street), the path narrows into little more than a swath in the grass as you enter a residential neighborhood. One half-mile later, you’re back in the woods and the path becomes wide again. It ends suddenly at an earthen mound on an old bridge abutment. There, you have the option of descending the path to Vernon Avenue, though you’ll need to watch out for loose soil. Or you can just turn back.

Windsor Locks Canal Trail. This 5.4-mile paved path begins at the Windsor Locks Canal & State Park, located behind the Montgomery Mill apartments on Bridge Street (Route 140). The asphalt is badly in need of repaving, which makes for a bumpy ride. You also have to look out for the ubiquitous, and sometimes belligerent, geese—not to mention their, um, droppings. However, the scenery atones for these obstacles.

As you proceed north along the path, the canal lays to your west while the Connecticut River is east of you. The trail’s isolated location between the two bodies of water, coupled with its copious vegetation, makes it ideal for spotting wildlife. There is also a bald eagle’s aerie, which I had never seen along a bike path before.

As you approach the Suffield towpath, you likely will encounter fishermen doing their thing. Just remember, it’s a multi-use trail that we all need to share. It once ended on Canal Road in Suffield, but now extends another mile or so over the CT 190 bridge to Enfield.

From the Ground Up – Buying Local in Connecticut

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.” — Wendell Berry

By C. Dennis Pierce

Do you remember this as a kid? “April showers bring May flowers”, an old adage that we all learned as a child. It originated in England where April, for them, is the one of the soggiest months causing flowers to bloom in May. Based on what I found on the internet, one origin suggests it comes from the year 1157 where a short “poem” was written by Thomas Tusser, and it said: “Sweet April Showers Do Spring May Flowers”. Another notion is that at the end of the fourteenth century the poet Geoffrey Chaucer penned a version that translates as: “When in April the sweet showers fall, that pierce March’s drought to the root and all, and bathed every vein in liquor that has power to generate therein and sire the flower”. 

The cycle of the seasons always surprises me or maybe it just takes me off guard. It amazes me how each of nature’s elements interacts with another causing a catalyst for change. For instance, I was recently walking on a very windy day on the path that surrounds Bicentennial Pond. The March rainy season caused the ground to be saturated and very wet and run off water from the forest pooled along the trail. Suddenly, the wind picked up and there was a loud crash as a nearby tree was uprooted and fell causing the ground to shake. Needless to say, it was a frightening experience. It took me a minute to stop and realize what I had just witnessed. My initial thought was at least now I know the answer to that age old question, “ If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? Fortunately, I was there to observe the event, and hear the thunderous boom but it also made me pause to realize the interconnectedness of the elements of nature. The natural cycle of life surrounds us daily, seasonally, yearly, and generationally. Whether it be in the plant world or with man we all have a time when something encourages us to lie down. In this case the soggy ground, rotting roots and heavy wind encouraged the tree that it was time to lay down and now decompose, creating habitats for insects, flora and later enriching the soil. Sometimes we are blind to what is around us. We take for granted on how the earth renews itself as the living things within an ecosystem interact with each other to create the perpetual cycle of nature. At the end of each cycle, we have decay and decomposition. Now it’s spring and nature continues the cycle by nurturing life as it provides us with emerging leaves and countless flowers.   

Melanie Desch, part owner of Foliota Farms is a nurturer. She grows flowers because they bring her a peaceful opportunity as she gardens early in the morning. “Flowers are a gift that brightens up your life”, she told me during a recent visit to the farm where she and her partner Ulises Arbelo grow over 150 varieties of flowers. Foliota Farm, which is located on 40 Woods Road in Mansfield Center, name is derived from the fungi, genus pholiota. One of the species of the genus pholiota is a species called  Namiko,  an edible fungi also known as Butterscotch Mushrooms, Forest Nameko, and Forest Mushroom. At Foliota Farm Melanie and Ulises incorporate fungi cultivation in some of their bed-prep, as well as employ practices promoting fungal health. As Melainie and Ulises shared their story and how they decided to grow flowers rather than vegetable they realized that from a business sense it is more profitable to grow flowers per square foot than growing vegetables. Sure, they encounter the same challenges as vegetable farmers with lack of rain or too much rain, insects, weeds etc. They, as most farmers, begin the flowers from seeds inside during the colder months and later in hoop or row houses. They have to be conscious of their soil make up since flowers like a PH of around 6.5. Weeds are discouraged by mulching and new beds are prepared by covering the ground with black plastic in effort to inhibit weed and grass growth. Melanie explained that there are two categories of flowers, “one and done” and “cut and come again”.  The farm needs to maintain a system of succession planning in order to maintain an ever-bearing inventory.  As their farm continues to be successful, they have set their sights on the next project and that is procuring a high tunnel to assist in the off-season.

Foliota Farm puts soil health first, using minimal tillage practices to maintain soil structure and promote microbiological and fungal diversity. They prioritize Connecticut natives, perennial plants, and heirloom varieties. Growing on our land, and helping improve our local ecosystem, has been a dream come true for Melanie and Ulises. The farm’s flower selection can be purchased at the Willimantic Farmer’s Market. The market is moving to its summer quarters and their first day will be on Saturday, April 27th from 9:00am until 12:00pm. Melanie is adamant that at the market they should offer several price points for their bouquets. “Everyone may not be able to afford a more expensive bouquet so that is why we offer five-dollar bouquets. Everyone one should be able to experience the beauty of locally grown fresh flowers”.  The farm also is very creative by offering a flower CSA. Information found on their web site explains the services offered. Their bouquets are average market sizes, with anywhere from 15-25 stems. They  contain a variety of annual, native, and/or foraged flowers to grab your interest. Color themes will vary, and they will experience the seasonality of different varieties. They will be arranged in a spiral pattern and cut to achieve an aesthetic, rounded look in a vase. The farm wraps their bouquets in paper to keep them secure during transport. All flowers are harvested the day of or the day before pickup and will be in the freshest state possible. Some bouquets may be partially closed and should open over the next few days, which gives you a longer period to enjoy their beauty.  The farm provides returnable mason jars to transport them home which fits easily in your car’s cup holder. The farm’s CSA offers 10 weeks of carefully cared for, locally grown flowers starting the first week of July for two hundred dollars and an option for 6 weeks of carefully cared for, locally grown flowers starting the first week of July for one hundred and twenty dollars. CSA bouquet pickups on Wednesday can be picked up at the farm at 40 Woods Road in Mansfield Center and Saturday’s bouquets can be picked up at the farm’s booth at the Willimantic Farmer’s Market at 28 Bridge Street, Willimantic, CT.  Check out their website at   https://www.foliotafarm.com/  for more information and some very attractive photos. The farm’s contact information is 908.894.0652 and email at FoliotaFarm@gmail.com.

Local markets will be offering kale as the season begins. While it appears that kale no longer has the popularity it did a few years ago it does provided an excellent source of vitamins. Here is a great way to “sneak” kale into your diet: 

Kale Scones with Pumpkin & Cheese

(Makes 8 to 10 large scones)

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Set oven rack in the middle of your stove.

Ingredients:

2 cups of kale leaves

2 cups of flour

½ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of baking powder

1 tablespoon of sugar

1/3 of a cup of cold butter

1 egg (preferably local)

¾ cup of buttermilk

½ cup of cooked pumpkin or squash, diced

¾ cup of grated cheddar cheese

If you do not have buttermilk, you can add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the ¾ cup of milk and let it stand for ten minutes before adding it to the recipe.

Directions:

Steam kale for a minute or two, just to blanch

Squeeze as much water out by wrapping it in a paper towel. 

Chop kale finely. You should have less than one cup of chopped kale.

Blend and sift, flour, salt, baking soda and sugar together

Cut cold butter in small pieces and blend it in the flour mixture with you winters. Don’t overwork since you want your butter to stay cold. You can also use a dough blender / cutter if you have one. 

In a small bowl beat eggs and then add the buttermilk. Beat until combined

Add egg / buttermilk mixture and kale, pumpkin / squash, and cheese to dry ingredients.

Mix with fork just to combine.  

Drop by spoonful on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Note, if you want to cut the mixture into shapes such as triangles or if you use a cookie cutter knead in about ¼ cup of extra flour to make the dough easier to handle.

Bale 20 minutes until browned.

Tip of the month: I have a cedar shingled house and this time of the year I am tormented with woodpeckers. I found that by going to the local dollar store I could purchase silver plastic decorations that can be found in their party section, and I attach them to my outside wall and their presence appears to scare the birds away. I guess woodpeckers are not celebratory feathered friends. Another tip which came from Melanie during our conversation was a suggestion on how to lengthen the life of a flowers. Pick them from the garden early in the morning and place them in a jar of water in the refrigerator. She also mentioned adding vinegar and sugar to the vase’s water. While she has not tried this, she has heard that by adding Sprite to the water, this too extends the life of the arrangement. Ulises also reminded us to cut the bottom of the stems and changing the water periodically as this adds to the bouquet’s life.

As mentioned above, tis the season for local farmer’s market transitioning to their summer market location. Besides Willimantic, as listed above here are a few updates:

  • Storrs Farmer’s Market first day in front of the Mansfield Town Hall – Saturday, May 4th.

https://www.storrsfarmersmarket.org/about

  • Coventry Market at Nathan Hale – Sunday, June 2nd
  • Ashford Market – Sunday April 28 (10:00am to 1:00pm). If this is not the correct date their location will be inside, across the street.

https://www.facebook.com/ashfordfarmersmarketct

And some final thoughts…in nature, every day is a new day. As humans we tend to fixate on the past but when you observe nature and see the constant changes around you, you become more aware that nothing and no one remains in the same place. Sometimes we get caught up in living in the past. We must remember that everyday is new and new again tomorrow.  If you find that you enjoy reading this column every month or if you have some gardening hacks you would like to share with others? Please drop me a line and let me know at Codfish53@Yahoo.com.  Peas be with you. Come celebrate with me and remember, every day is a holiday, and every meal is a banquet.  I’ll save you a seat at the table! 

“We Have to Act with Peace and Love” (and Justice)

By Phoebe C. Godfrey

I am a Holocaust survivor. I experienced as a child every single thing a Gazan child is experiencing on a daily basis, including the loss of my family, war, firebombing, hunger. It pleases me to no end to see you here… I take courage and urge you to keep going… We need to bring this to an end, there is no excuse for the slaughter of 15K+ children and untold others. We have to act with peace and love, and I am proud to be here with you.

—Marione Ingram, author and peace activist,

speaking at an American campus protest

Yesterday I was sent a mini-video on X (formally Twitter) of Marione Ingram speaking at a campus protest about the ongoing slaughter of Palestinians, and I was deeply moved by her words. In fact, I was so moved that I knew I had to write about her courage to recognize that the slaughtering of innocent civilians, and in particular children, regardless of who is doing it and the reasons claimed as to why, constitutes what can be considered crimes against humanity. In short, what is happening to Palestinian civilians by the current Israeli government cannot be justified and therefore should not be supported by our government, and certainly not by our tax dollars, as in military support. And yet, as succinctly pointed out by Jon Stewart during his April 8th show, the same actions for which we have no trouble critiquing Russia, when done by Israel receive no condemnation at all. Fortunately, many of our nation’s college students disagree with our government and even with many of their universities, which, despite their generally implied missions to stand up for the public good, and even for truth and justice, often do not.

When I was at Rutgers University in the spring of 1985, we had a student protest movement—the Rutgers Coalition for Total Divestment—that, through persistence over years and months, including many weeks camping out on campus, resulted in “a New Jersey Senate committee approv[ing] a divestment bill that would remove $2 billion worth in investments of pension funds from companies associated with South Africa” and that led Rutgers to announce “a total divestment worth $6.4 million from over ten companies, including Coca Cola and IBM.” Our student protesting “made Rutgers one of over twenty schools that adopted or that would go on to adopt policies of at least partial divestment from companies that did business with South Africa.”

I share this because, as I write, many of my own students, as well as many other students at UConn and around the nation, are calling for their universities to divest from the fossil fuel/military industrial complex as they recognize the direct links between these industries and what is happening in Palestine. Many of these students identify as Muslim and are also standing up to the Islamophobia that our nation’s blanket support of Israel embodies, and many others who do not hold that identity are nevertheless standing in solidarity with their peers, as they know that what is being done in our name, with our taxpayer money and with direct links to our universities, is wrong. As Ingram says, “there is no excuse for the slaughter of 15K+ children and untold others,” including journalists, medical personnel, and aid workers. Except…ahh yes, and it is always the same, for the ruling few there is power to be gained and money to be made. Shame! Shame! Shame! as students have been chanting.

Given the students’ divestment agenda, I decided to investigate UConn’s links to the military industrial complex and was not surprised how easy it was (given the internet) to connect the dots. In fact, just last month UConn renamed its engineering building from the United Technologies Engineering Building (after the seventh largest military contractor in the country) to the Pratt & Whitney Engineering Building, no doubt due to the donation of large sums of money. This all sounds well and good—who doesn’t want money to name buildings and fund students?—but when I further googled Pratt & Whitney, I found that last year they were awarded a defense contract worth “$2,023,073,136 … to procure materials, parts, and components for Lot 17 of the F135 Propulsion system for F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.” Then I looked up where some of these planes have ended up and found that recently the “State Department authorized the transfer [to Israel] of 25 F-35A fighter jets and engines worth roughly $2.5 billion,” as well as 1,800 “2,000-pound bombs,” which the planes are able to carry. These bombs, which, according to the Washington Post, are “capable of leveling city blocks and leaving craters in the earth 40 feet across and larger, are almost never used anymoreby Western militaries in densely populated locations due to the risk of civilian casualties.” Yet, as the article goes on to say, “Israel has used them extensively in Gaza, … most notably in the bombing of Gaza’s Jabalya refugee camp Oct. 31.” As a result, “U.N. officialsdecried the strike, which killed more than 100 people [among many thousands of others], as a ‘disproportionate attack that could amount to war crimes.’” However, “Israel defended the bombing, saying it resulted in the death of a Hamas leader.” Of course that would be the claim, just as when we were killing thousands of civilians in Iraq (about 200,000, at the cost of $728 billion) during the so-called Operation Iraqi Freedom (nothing was further from the truth), any number of casualties would be justified by unsupported U.S. military claims of having successfully killed at least one of our extremist enemies.

And so, when we take the time to connect the dots we must concur with the students that UConn, and many other universities around the nation, are financially tied to our military—a military which has committed and continues to commit atrocities directly and indirectly, through equipment support and sales, all in the name of ridding the world of so-called “evil.” Additionally, we must listen to Marione Ingram, who was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, where she said that such wars only increase terrorism, suffering, and death—as well as, I would add, climate change and ecological destruction. They do not lead to peace, nor increased global security, and they certainly don’t help us, as a species, maintain a livable planet.

The only answer I can offer to all this death and destruction, based on my past activism and my educated understanding of the world, is almost the same one Ingram offers. It is one that so many who have gone before, including all the world’s great spiritual leaders (but, sadly, not most of their followers) have offered, and that is, “We have to act with peace and love” (and justice).

Ceasefire now! Divestment now! Peace now!

Anything less is shameful! Shame! Shame! Shame!

My Chart Plus Aggravation + Confusion

By Loretta Wrobel    

May is my birthday month, and one of the unavoidable traumas as you age is that you are forced to dance with the medical system more frequently each year. You cannot avoid it. The body does get tired and breaks down and doesn’t operate as it used to when you were younger. Fortunately, I have been fairly healthy for most of my long existence on this planet this time around. However, as I pass into yet another decade, I witness my ailments multiplying, not life threatening, but needing attention. Consequently, I am compelled to go to the computer and sign on to My Chart Plus.

Initially, it seemed to be a great invention. You just have a short period of learning to navigate the system and voila, you are contacting medical personnel and getting test results and getting reminders of appointments. What a sense of safety and comfort. That is until the system runs into an error or a blip or you can’t remember your password. 

I am feeling quite smug and knowing help is just a few clicks along the way. Sending a message seems quick and you get fast results—until you don’t. I have waited for more than a week and a half without any return response. That leaves you with one alternative, Calling. This is an anxiety inducing experience, as you need to give all sorts of information and are not connected to the department you want. You have to know what number you want or the name of who you want to speak to. All of these detours take more Time. Finally, when you reach the appropriate office, you get a time frame of two to six months for an appointment.

Here is a lengthy saga of what I experienced recently. I call a clinic for an appointment and I am told I had to have a referral from my doctor. My doctor, meanwhile, had given me the number of the clinic. I use my chart to notify the office for a referral. I do get a response within a few days, asking for what kind of a referral. Finally, I get a notification that the referral has been made. I do not call the clinic back, since I was told they will call me and it could be up to three weeks. I finally get a return call two months later. My appointment is set for three months in the future. I guess they are very busy.

However, that is not the only shock. Here are my instructions. I have to go to pick up my test results and bring it myself to the clinic when I go. I have to contact my doctor’s office for them to fax blood test results to the specialty clinic. I say, “Just get it from my chart plus.”  The reply “Oh no, as this is a different group and we don’t have access to your medical chart.” I thought the whole purpose was to have coordinated health care where medical personnel could see all of your health history to provide better care. 

What happens next? Well, I sign onto the other healthcare system. Wrong, as I don’t have an access code from their medical insurance. Next step is a shot in the dark. I return to my home page for my chart, and—surprise– I then see a link to the other healthcare system. OK I am riding high. I have solved this puzzle. Not so, as there is a problem loading the information. Check back later. I go back three times and no success. However, on the fourth attempt, I am successful. What a puny reason to be elated. Nonetheless I am. I am driven to feel great about a successful link in. These are the times we live in. No wonder depression and anxiety are on the rise!

This is our highly advanced medical system that functions some of the time and doesn’t much of the time. I used to believe, when I heard horror stories about what happened, that it was just a glitch. A friend reports that after a three plus hour test on her gallbladder and pancreas, the results are negative. Why has she been in severe pain? No answer. 

We are getting sicker along with our medical systems. We need to create some loud action. No one should have to wait for a critical test for three months. Nobody should be denied a treatment because of a denial by the insurance company. 

Next comes the reality of the remuneration that the head, the CEO–chief executive officer, receives from their insurance company. We all know such an excessive amount of salary, bonuses, and benefits are absorbed by the rest of us. We are just trying to take care of our bodies. It is no secret that yet again we are dealing with Corporate Greed. 

All of us are struggling as our rates for insurance increase, our coverage decreases, plus our services are often not timely and require longer and longer waiting periods. This is not a sustainable path. And it means we have to wait longer and longer to get even simple tests or services. For older folks how long can we wait? How do we take care of ourselves?  Why does it always get back to this: The sane choice is not available. 

Healthcare is a fundamental right. As citizens, we deserve appropriate and speedy healthcare to keep ourselves functioning in this dysfunctional system or at best unwieldy system. Perhaps the healthcare companies have expanded too far, with too many mergers, or the desire for profit has taken top seat? 

Healthcare needs to remember their goals, not to accrue fatter profits but to bring greater health to the populations they serve. It seems like an easy fix. We need to take back control. My own doctor, not an insurance company employee, sitting at a desk in some home office somewhere on earth, is the appropriate resource to make decisions regarding my care. Good health is not for profit! We need to pressure our insurance companies to stand up for state-of-the-art efficient healthcare that is affordable and available to every person. It is attainable, and we deserve the right to be as healthy as possible. May your next experience with the medical system be smooth and navigatable. I wish you top quality healthcare and health, especially as we move towards November elections!!!